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The Dean Meme

Oh man, am I ever sick of the another McGovern meme currently being propagated by Republicans ostensibly thrilled that Dean is going to clinch the Democratic nomination. Dean ain't my first choice for the nomination, and I honestly don't know if he can beat Bush in 2004, but the whole "Dean = McGovern" thing drives me nuts.

So do me a favor. The next time someone feeds you this line, reply:

Dean is McGovern? Huh. Well, then by extending your analogy we can conclude that Bush is Nixon: a man so obsessed with power, secrecy and personal vendettas that the second term of his presidency will collapse under the weight of its own corruption.

Knowing what we know now about the two candidates, I think most people would prefer to vote for McGovern.

At this point the person comparing Dean to McGovern will have to (a) concede to your dizzying logic or (b) admit that the analogy is facile. (Or, if you're on The O'Reilly Factor, (c) tell you to shut up.) In any case, this would help nip this meme in the bud.

Posted on December 11, 2003 to Politics


You're quite right.

If anything, Howard Dean is Barry Goldwater, not George McGovern.

Heh. ;-)

Posted by: Dean Esmay on December 11, 2003 9:59 AM

a man so obsessed with power, secrecy and personal vendettas that the second term of his presidency will collapse under the weight of its own corruption.

Oh please? PRETTY please?

Posted by: spygeek on December 11, 2003 10:03 AM

Shut up.


Posted by: O'Reilly on December 11, 2003 10:12 AM

i'm still chuckling over the 'passing the gasket' entry title. while dean is not the perfect choice (i don't believe there is one), this is how i feel about the other democratic candidates:

Junior O'Daniel: We could hire our own midget, even shorter than his.

Pappy O'Daniel: Wouldn't we look like a bunch of Johnny-come-latelies, bragging on our own midget, doesn't matter how stumpy.

Posted by: unmute on December 11, 2003 10:15 AM

I'd rather see it as Reagan/Mondale. You know, a charismatic leader who stood up to a grave world threat and defeated it vs a Democrat to liberal for the country at large.

I'm a little worried that Bill Kristol thinks Dean has some chance of winning - but not that worried.

Posted by: Duane on December 11, 2003 10:46 AM

I like Kristol a lot -- he strikes me as driven by deeply-held (conservative) beliefs rather than just partisanship or a rabid dislike of “liberals,” and is therefore able to see both sides of the issues. But I suspect Kristol is just playing Devil's Advocate. (No implied "Dean = Devil" comparison intended, there). Like the others on the Weekly Standrd staff, I bet he thinks it’s going to be a landslide too.

Posted by: Matthew on December 11, 2003 11:08 AM

Hmmmm...the only "grave world threat" I remember during the Reagan years was the US's own nuclear buildup, which would then mean that Bush and Clinton defeated it by reducing the stockpile by 80%, which would then mean that W. Bush's new buildup would be a new grave world threat. But I can imagine that's hard to fathom when one is still convinced Ronnie was charismatic.

Posted by: Russell on December 11, 2003 11:08 AM

Dean is McGovern? Huh. Well, then by extending your analogy we can conclude that Bush is Nixon:

D) the above can only be "concluded" if we assume that simply because dean == mcgovern, anyone running against dean must therefore == nixon. since the reason for equating dean to mcgovern has much more to do with dean and mcgovern's personal politics than it does with anything specific to the dean vs. nixon presidential race, your "conclusion" is built on a false analogy as you say, but it is not the same analogy of the person claiming that dean == mcgovern. most people will not be quick witted enough to notice this, and will therefore opt for C) i am guessing, which is a shame, since, in the end, their point has been, essentially, unchallenged by anything you're retorted to them.

Posted by: .hack/jhimm on December 11, 2003 11:19 AM

c) Shut up.

Posted by: O'Reilly 2 on December 11, 2003 12:01 PM



Maybe you were too young? See, there used to be this thing called the Soviet Union that wanted to destroy and/or conquer America, its allies, and everything it stood for. Intractable philosophical differences led to 40 years of stalemate. Everyone believed the conflict could only end in global annihilation.

The US nuclear buildup you decry was the only thing keeping that from happening. Then the Soviets ran out of money trying to keep up with us and their society collapsed.

These kids today don't know nothin' 'bout living under the continuous threat of nuclear holocaust. Rassim frassim punks got it too easy. Git offa my lawn!

Posted by: David on December 11, 2003 12:29 PM

Bush is more dangerous than Nixon b/c even if his motivations aren't as dark his agenda is more extreme.

Posted by: Matt on December 11, 2003 1:38 PM

Kristol is trying to lure the liberal pundits that respect him into a false sense of security. He does not really think Dean can beat Bush. His is the most disengenuos type of opinion piece.

Posted by: Matt on December 11, 2003 1:48 PM

hard to argue that the bush administration isn't all for expanding executive power & keeping things secret from congress and the public. as for whether bush supports personal vendettas, well, we could wait to see what comes out of the valerie plame investigation ...

Posted by: wynne on December 11, 2003 2:31 PM

Dean = McGovern because the Right needs to scare you...

Dean = Newt Gingrinch because the left (Dick Gephardt, John Kerry, etc) are so desperate to get Liberal interest back in their campaign, they need to scare you.

Dean = Reagan because in 1980, Reagan was supposedly too conservative for his own good, the Republican party was in shambles and he was supposed to be leading the Republicans into the political wilderness if he secured the party nomination....

Hmmm, how did that turn out with Ronnie? Oh yeah, he won...

I don't care for the labels at all -- I'm tired of them in fact. But honestly, is there any other candidate in the field worth labeling? I mean, John Kerry is a dead man and the only label I have for him is Kerryfuck. Wesley Clark looks like Skelator and his politics make him look like an advisor driven puppet... I could label him Bush if he is indeed that type of puppet, now couldn't I? Dick Gephardt? What could you label Dick besides "Richard Cranium"? ANd Joe Lieberman? I can only think of "Whine" as a label for him....

...All the while Dean inspires people to label him as far right, far left, and at the same time - he STILL gets his base fired up and people interested...

Posted by: John F on December 11, 2003 3:42 PM

> most people would prefer to vote for McGovern

And in 2000, most people preferred to vote for Gore. Fat lot of good it did.

Posted by: Luke on December 12, 2003 8:39 AM

And in 2000, most people preferred to vote for Gore. Fat lot of good it did.

Regardless of whether you thought Gore won and Bush stole the presidency, or whether you believe Bush won it fair and square, everyone in 2000 was in agreement that our electoral process needed revision. 3 years later, we haven't done squat. Of course, those in power by a flawed process see no reason to change the flaws, so that goes a long way in explaining why nothing has been done, but the Democrats have totally squandered these last 3 years and should have made election reform a top priority. Blame? Everyone!!! (And yes i include myself in that "everyone", as this is the first time I've publicly bitched about it. Shame On ME!)

Posted by: mr. grooism on December 12, 2003 9:44 AM

David (Mr. "The. Cold. War.):

Just because the Cold War wasn't solved through diplomacy doesn't mean it couldn't have been. The closest Russia ever got to using a nuclear device -- the Cuban missle crisis -- was defused (sorry) through diplomacy and negotiation.

I'd argue that Reagan's buildup strategy, though successful in bankrupting the Soviet Union, did more harm than good by leaving hundreds of nuclear devices in the hands of mobsters and potential terrorists.

Finally, your view of the Soviets as a bunch of evil maniacs who "wanted to destroy and/or conquer America, its allies, and everything it stood for" smacks of uninformed jingoism, classroom-newsreel style. Can you imagine what the US agenda looked like to Soviets? We were, after all, trying to destroy and/or conquer the Soviet Union, its allies, and everything else it stood for, and we were partially successful.

Posted by: Russell on December 12, 2003 9:58 AM

What Dean really needs to do is select Clark as his running mate (or clearly state that he'll be the Secretary of Defence) if he wins the nomination, and vice-versa. If he chooses Hilary as the veep as the press claims it'll be a disaster.

Posted by: Glen on December 12, 2003 10:58 AM

Glen, I've been saying the same thing for months. I think Dean and Clark would compliment each other nicely. Dean has the domestic executive political experience, while Clark has the military/foreign policy experience. Both are intelligent, articulate and driven. Oh how I would love to see them in the future Prez/VP debates.

Although some believe Hillary has a solid chance, it seems that now is not the right time. Perhaps after another election cycle or two, but not in 2004.

Posted by: Johnny on December 12, 2003 12:02 PM


When I'm making a point, I find it more compelling if I don't undercut my own argument by coloring in every shade of grey.

Yes, my characterization of the Soviet Union was simplistic. I didn't see the need to write a five-page essay on the nuances of late 20th century political realities when all I wanted to do was remind you that there was a very good reason for Reagan's military buildup.

Moreover, I think you know that, and are being deliberately obstructive. Or possibly obtuse.

Also, as I recall the history I was taught, the Cuban missile crisis was resolved because the US blockaded Cuba and dared the Soviets to do something about it. Not terribly diplomatic. Just effective.

Posted by: David on December 12, 2003 12:59 PM

ya, how can you consider a naval blockade that size diplomatic? my family was there for that. not much about it smacked of diplomacy via tabletalk, but more of the typical MADD, mexican standoff, end of a gun diplomacy that everyone on earth agrees to work.

and i would say just building a strategic weapon, pointing it at a nation falls into "coming close to using it".

another success of reagan that isn't being mentioned here, was Reykjavík. the diplomacy reagan showed there (via tabletalk this time) brought a crushing blow to the cold war.

also, while i think pushed as a bad thing, the whole super-red-scare was invented by reagan. you can see in the previous republican election that reagan didn't get nominated into, he forged together the "evil empire". sure it was there before, but reagan's big priorty with them wasn't. once he had that, you can see when ford was nominated and reagan gave a little speach, that people realized ford was the wrong guy....so, fastforward to 1980, and now reagan is back with the evil empire.. so, this big to do is a priority now and we crush the evil empire. how long would it have been if someone hadn't made it such a big to-do? invented, sure. so what? eliminating that MADD doom seems far more important then aids, roads, or anything else to me. obviously some tree huggers would disagree, but the flares of the cold war certainly killed too many for me.

Posted by: araboth on December 12, 2003 2:14 PM

i saw kristol debate like the editor of the new republic or something onetime. it was the best thing ever.

Posted by: drk on December 12, 2003 9:56 PM

Dean will not have Hillary Rodham Clinton as a running mate -- he can't even entertain the idea. Clinton is as polarizing a political figure as George W. Bush.

Clark might keep getting props - but I am NOT going to back a puppet of the Clinton's (he's surrounded by Clinton / DLC Advisors) and a fired Military Officer for the second highest post in the land. If I wanted a puppet -- I'd vote Bush. If I wanted a Clinton, I'd vote Lieberman...

Posted by: John F on December 13, 2003 6:14 AM

Oh, and here's a good article on the differences between Dean and McGovern:


Posted by: John F on December 13, 2003 10:11 AM

Mega dittos.

Posted by: beerzie boy on December 15, 2003 12:00 PM

Sorry Yeti

but that was just plain weak, i am sure you can do better.


Posted by: chinditz on December 23, 2003 5:46 AM

Oh and Matt:

Take a chill-pill before you become one of those democrats that make democrats look laughable.

"Bush is more dangerous than Nixon b/c even if his motivations aren't as dark his agenda is more extreme"



Posted by: chinditz on December 23, 2003 5:49 AM